Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Phillips speaks about the past, present, and future of the department at the monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon. PHOTO BY DEREK LACEY

 

At the last Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce luncheon of 2012, members were presented with “Mint Hill Fire Department: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow; the challenge of keeping up,” by MHVFD Chief John Phillips.

The luncheon was held at Jimmie’s Restaurant on December 20, and after new members Pottery 51 and Cole’s Comfort Heating and Air were welcomed, Chief Phillips began his presentation, starting with the history of the department.

Phillips himself joined the department in 1974 at the age of 16, and he presented statistics of population, fires, and area of service from 1971 to the present.

He spoke briefly about the embezzlement case which has been a “black cloud” over the organization recently.

“We don’t dwell on it, but we don’t back away from it at the same time, because it is a situation that did happen, and we’re very remorseful, we’re very sorry that it did,” Phillips said.

But, Phillips said, there is a sort of silver lining.

“It has created a mindset of making sure that we’ve got checks and balances in place because we’re dealing with a very, very important thing, and that’s the public’s trust,” Phillips said. “We know full well that we’re responsible for not only the care and the safety of 29,000 people, but also for the monies that they put into our organization to make that happen.”

Mint Hill Fire Department currently services approximately 29,000 people and 8,700 households, and the projected call totals for 2012 are more than 3,300. The number of calls per year has risen steadily at 7-10 percent per year, and has increased by 1,200 percent since 1990, a year that saw only 252 calls.

One aspect that is unique to the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department is that they also operate a medical transportation service, a service very few other fire departments provide, and one which is becoming more difficult to provide.

“Our goal is to avoid being in a situation where we can’t provide that service, but if we’re going to continue it, it’s going to have to be with more help than we’ve got right now,” Phillips said. “And the only way to do that is to have the folks who use that service to help us fund it through billing—and that’s just the way that is.”

Looking to the future, the main focus is on the new station that is in the plans for the corner of Cabarrus and Arlington Church roads, and once complete, will allow the department to serve the community much more efficiently.

Mint Hill is also constantly expanding, always a concern to the department, and current estimates say there are 2,881 lots in the Mint Hill area, prepared for residential development.